This is one of those dishes that for me truly defines Italian home cooking, slowly braised cheap large cuts of meat (Southern Italian Region) or minced meat (Northern Italian Region) with vegetables and sometimes dried processed meats slowly simmered in a rich tomato sauce that can be either enjoyed with pasta, crusty bread or on its own. It is a really simple dish, but the results do not sound like it, the ratio of result to effort is quite high so there is no reason why you won’t do this. Imagine a rich tomato sauce slowly bubbling with nice chunks of fork tender meats below poured on a nice quality pasta, it is the perfect definition of a comfort meal.
I rarely make this because I don’t have a slow cooker which means I will have to rely a lot on my trusty old stove, that also means I cannot leave the house if I do so at it takes at least 4 hours to make a perfect flavourful one. If I do make them I usually cook it on Sunday night for a couple of hours, then by Monday morning I will give it another hour of boiling before I go to the office, then at the evening it will be continued to be boiled for another hour, just the right time for dinner. What is good with that process, it further tenderizes the meat as the moment you turn it off the residual heat still continues to cook the meat, and since it is over two days the flavours will definitely develop and even be embedded into the meat.
Today we will be making ragu with Oxtail, not a cheap cut here in New Zealand. Perhaps this is the most flavourful meat cuts you can get which is perfect for a ragu, it also helps thicken the sauce, thanks to the good amounts of collagen on this cut, the texture of meat as well is great. With this cut you can lessen the cooking time as it is not as tough as other meats. Now how about you what cuts of meat you use when you make ragu?
- 6-8 pcs large oxtail sections
- ½ cup chopped guanciale or bacon
- 2 cups red wine (Shiraz, Cabernet or Merlot)
- 2 400g cans Italian style chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- handful of chopped basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- olive oil
- cooked pasta
- Season your oxtails with salt and pepper.
- In a large heavy pot add heat olive oil then brown oxtail pieces. Remove oxtails from the pot then set aside.
- Add the guanciale, celery, carrot, onion and garlic, sauté in low heat for 2 minutes.
- Add the oxtails back, pour the red wine then simmer in high heat until red wine is reduced by half.
- Stir in the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, basil and oregano then simmer in low heat for 2 to 2.5 hours or until meat is fork tender, checking once in a while for the liquid levels, if it becomes too thick to your preference add a bit of water.
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then serve on top of freshly cooked pasta.